Unit 14: Future and conditional perfect tenses, translation considerations (part 4)

14.5 Conditional Perfect Tense and Conditional Perfect of Probability

The conditional perfect tense is formed by the conditional tense of the auxiliary verb haber and the past participle:

traer traducción
yo habría traído I would have brought
habrías traído you (fam.) would have brought
él, ella, Ud. habría traído he, she, you (form.) would have brought
nosotros habríamos traído we would have brought
vosotros habríais traído you (fam. pl.) would have brought
ellos, ellas, Uds. habrían traído they, you (form. pl. [fam. pl. in L.A.] would have brought

The conditional perfect tense is used largely as it is in English. It indicates what someone would or would not have done in a past moment. See the following examples in context:

Yo no habría hecho aquello. I wouldn’t have done that.
Conrado no habría dicho eso. Conrado wouldn’t have said that.

As the conditional tense expresses probability or conjecture in the (simple) past moment, so does the conditional perfect tense express probability in the past perfect moment. You should pay special attention to this non-systemic use of the four tenses used to express probability and to avoid confusion among them, as well as with the literal (systemic) meaning of the tenses. In the compound tenses, the meaning is “perfected” or compounded from the simple (one-word) tense. Study the following chart to see the parallels:

Tense + Probability = Meaning (Time Frame)
future present
future perfect present perfect
conditional (simple) past
conditional perfect past perfect

See all four tenses below and note their translations:
Future of Probability

¿Quién será? Who do you think it is?

Conditional of Probability

¿Quién sería? Who do (did) you think it was?

Future Perfect of Probability

¿Quién habrá sido? Who do you think it has been?

Conditional Perfect of Probability

¿Quién habría sido? Who did you think it had been?

See also the four compound indicative tenses that you have studied and their basic meanings (not those of probability), to be sure that you can distinguish between them:

he visto I have seen
había visto I had seen
habré visto I will have seen
habría visto I would have seen



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Spanish for Reading and Translation Copyright © by Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book